The Vikings aren’t ready to announce their starting middle linebacker for the fourth preseason game, but second-round draft pick Eric Kendricks hasn’t hurt his chances of ultimately securing the job for the Sept. 14 season opener.
With the players off Sunday, coach Mike Zimmer, linebackers coach Adam Zimmer, defensive coordinator George Edwards and General Manager Rick Spielman huddled in Zimmer’s office and watched every play the middle linebackers have had this preseason.
“Just to get a gauge to see where we’re at throughout the whole course of the preseason,” Zimmer said Monday.
Later Monday, the Vikings had an abbreviated practice in full pads. Kendricks, who started in the base 4-3 defense ahead of Audie Cole for the first time in Saturday’s 20-12 preseason victory over Oakland, still was with the first-team defense and sharing reps with Chad Greenway in the nickel sub package. Cole was with the second unit.
“I think he did good [Saturday night],” Zimmer said of Kendricks, who had one tackle in the game.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean Kendricks will start on Saturday at Dallas. The Vikings will spend another week working different combinations at linebacker and might even give Gerald Hodges a look with the first unit. Cole started the first two preseason games.
As for Kendricks, one of the things that impressed Zimmer most came after the youngster made an early mistake in the game.
“He fitted one thing wrong and then they ran basically the same play later and he got it right after we corrected it on the sideline,” Zimmer said.
Kendricks explained it this way: “I just got too aggressive. I thought I saw the ball declared somewhere else and I popped my gap. As a defense, we all have to do our jobs. On that play, I got a little too eager and didn’t do mine. But I got it fixed.
“One of the big things I’ve had to focus on is to calm down and focus on my job and maybe take it down a notch and let things come to me. I’m getting better and a lot more patient.”
No Wallace ratio
The team that gave us the “Randy Ratio” a decade ago is not interested in creating a “Michael Ratio” for new receiver Mike Wallace, who has all of one catch for 2 yards in three preseason games.
“Some of the things that happen during the games dictate where the ball goes,” Zimmer said. “We planned on getting the ball to Mike a little bit more last week, but it’s just the way the game came out.
“I really don’t want the quarterback to predetermine exactly where the ball is going. I mean we can get him the ball on some easy throws, but we’re not really trying to do that.”
Sullivan should be OK
Center John Sullivan missed a third consecutive practice in addition to Saturday’s game because of back spasms. An NFL source said the injury isn’t considered to be serious.
Other players not practicing Monday were tight end MyCole Pruitt (ankle), defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee), safety Antone Exum (hamstring) and cornerback Josh Robinson (pectoral), who still is on the physically unable to perform list.
The best part of linebacker Anthony Barr playing Saturday was him being able to practice in full pads two days later. That’s a sign the knee issues that have been dogging him since late last year are being put in the past.
As for Barr’s first live action since the 12th game of last season? Well, Zimmer didn’t give a glowing account of Barr’s work in Saturday’s game. Barr had one tackle and a pass defense while looking understandably rusty.
“He did all right for the first time out,” Zimmer said. “He didn’t do anything real spectacular. I think he needs to get back into the game tempo a little bit more. There were a couple of times when he didn’t flash like he normally flashes. I think physically he’s fine. It’s just the extra burst you need to have during games.”